books 4 ice cream: a really wordy post about books




                                       4 Ice-cream-cones






(why bribing is an acceptable

parental technique)












For any of you with school aged children this comes as no surprise.

Once your little people come to the age where reading time matures past Mama or Daddy snuggling up with a picture book, complete with funny voices, that nicely delays bedtime; your kids don't really get that excited about books.

The older they get, the more technology gets in the way.

the wii


sponge bob


not to mention our new ipad 2

gets in the way of the gentle and subtle lull of a well-written plots and literary characters.

But books are important.

I want them to be important to my children.

I refuse to let my smart girls morph into dull-glazed-over-screen-obsessed tweens and teenagers.

I should add, they love to be outside, and spend lots of time running around barefoot, like The Walton kids (which is why we need to move to the country soon). That makes us happy.

But the problem persists.  They just wont read.  The public schools really push reading, which is great.  But sometimes I think too much.  They read a lot a school.  Some teachers assign reading every night.  I understand the reasoning of course.  But, I want to develop a love of reading in my girls. 

  Falling into, and getting lost in a good book is one of life's greatest pleasures.

Not to mention all the good and benefiting information I have gleaned from books; some which has truely improved  the quaility of life in our home and in my life.

Lumping "reading your chapter book" with Math sheets and spelling words, never set well with me; cuz those suck. Everyone hates doing those.  So I don't make my kids read each night the way I make them do their homework (which means yes, I lie and sign that little homework note each week).

Speaking of public schools and books (oh heaven help me this is gonna be one long ass post)…I was initially delighted to hear all about the classics that my daughter was reading and going over is school. 

Then she brought one home.

These well-loved classics, were adaptations, not even abridged versions, written my someone else completely.   I thought I would give Swiss Family Robinson a try, and started reading it to my big girls.  It was horrible.  It was in short, a quick overview summery of each chapter, with some major parts not even in it.  It went as follows:

We did this and saw that and he said this and I said that. Next chapter.

The thing is, Swiss Family Robinson is written way above a 3rd graders reading level.  All the classics originally written for children are too difficult for today's child.  a). because of how much the  English language  has changed in the last 100 years and b). the classics start SO SLOW and go into so much DETAIL. Our kids are just used to instant, funny, and exciting all at once. 

But by the time kids are to a reading level where they can comprehend and grasp the language and can weigh through all the detail, they are way beyond getting excited about the tigers and sharks and pirates found in Swiss Family.

What is a teacher of parent to do?

Does anyone know of any good abridged editions out there, that maintains the original text and authors words of the classics, but has been finely and can I say "respectfully?"edited, so as to keep our generation of children's interest without sacrificing what made it a classic in the first place?

  I try to edit as I read, but its not easy!

For instance, for the second time, I am trying to read to the big girls The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly.  It is set in med-evil times in Poland, if that is any indication.  Its hailed as this great children's classic.  Supposed to be so exciting.  Has good values and morals emphasised.  On a lot of: "Books You Must Read To Your Children Or They Will Be Ignorant" lists.

It is just so bloody long!  It spends like 3 paragraphs describing a group of peoples clothes!  And of course its not normal clothes my kids can relate to…"tunics, and "quarter staffs"? (What are those! I don't even know?)

I am giving it one more chapter or its toast.

But I am very happy with the more modern Newberry winner books the schools have my girls reading;

The Shiloh trilogy by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

E.B. Whites Charlotte's Web and The Swan Trumpeter.(again with the trumpets)

and anything by Beverely Cleary or Patricia Reily Giff.

Their teachers have introduced these books and authors to my girls and for that I am thankful.

Ok, I am way off topic.

(Can you tell hubby has a new toy and is therefore leaving me alone, not giving me the look while I click away?)

(new ipad 2 = happy hubby)


So my girls, by the time they get home, don't want to  sit and read anything, forget the classics or newberry medal.

So I fell back on my super mom technique:


I started out by asking the girls:

"Hey do you know what a proposition means"?


"It means if you do something I will do something that will better both of us".

Thus "Books for Ice Cream" was birthed.

Here is the official chart and rules made out of a fabric-covered mirror plywood back (the mirror broke) and some pretty papers.




We like charts…ok I like charts and lists, and always put them on our basement door that is located in the center hub of our home, and by that I mean around where the food is eaten, so every one can take a gander and see what mom whats them to be doing.


"Fair shake" is a local ice cream parlor…people from everywhere go there to eat their ice cream all summer….it's an ice cream mecca where all things dairy and holy bring people together.  We are gonna see how many of the 100 hundred different flavors they can sample this summer.

Here is the Mom approved books, placed all together is an old shopping cart basket I got at an antique shop years ago; spray-painted white of course.

These are the books I have got so far, for my soon to be 4th and 3rd graders.  Any good chapter books suggests.for that age group? Always looking for more.  It's gonna be a long summer and they are on a mission!


This is our budding stack of books for my emerging reader and soon to be Kindergartner!  She is just starting to read…and is so proud she can hardly stand it. It is a good discipline for me to sit down and make time to let her sound out a 12-page Biscuit book.(it ain't fast)

  A good hint:  Have your little readers "read" a book that they know by heart over and over again if they want, even if they are not really sounding out the words.  It gives them confidence. We all know feelings of accomplishment motivate you.  Just think how you felt when you got your first comment on your blog!


Our fabric-covered book report composition book.

I attached it with grommets (love them) and sewed around the edges.

And of course after I glued on the images and papers I realized:


Suddenly my girls are book worms!



And of course, The Great Parental Truth Prevails:

No matter what you do for you children, or how fun you make it for them, they will find a way to make it annoying.

My big girl, as soon as she heard the words "books=fair-shake ice cream" turned into a reading animal!  She read an entire 100 page 3rd grade chapter book in less than one day. My Reader number 2 is not quite as fast.  So she FLIPS OUT  when she finds out her sister is done already, and cuz I am The Mamma, and can sense all things daughter- related, I knew she was not really reading her book, but getting through it as fast as possible.  When I try to gently bring this up to her she FLIPS OUT even more.

You just can't win.

Daddy came up with the good idea: we will get ice cream when they both finish a book.  I will just make sure to sit down and help my little reader spit out a book whenever the big gilrs finish their own.  Of course  another fit was thrown over this: "Its Not Fair"! To which I replied:

"Being four just rocks, get over it".

Anyway, this is how I plan to keep my offspring from destroying themselves and driving me to the bottle this summer.  I will always keep that "books 4 ice cream" composition journal.  I hope that phrase will become a by-word in this family.  Maybe even a cherished memory, and maybe if I am really lucky, to keep all the memories of the screaming and yelling and psychotic behaviour in general in the murky back round of their childhood.


And lastly, (you knew I had to stop typing soon) my summer reading list:

Have you read anything really good lately?




4 thoughts on “books 4 ice cream: a really wordy post about books

  1. Nothing wrong with a little bribery…we call it “incentives” 🙂
    Everywhere we have lived, the library does some fun reading programs for the summer and Borders also does one where if you read ten books you get a free book from their list.
    Have your girls read Dragon Slippers, or Bella at Midnight or ANYTHING by Shanon Hale. Those are fun ones to read out loud to them too. Maybe you can read out loud to them each night and when you finish that book together do something fun too.
    I [heart] reading, a lot.


  2. I would like my name on the chart, please, and I will deliver my book report soon. Sounds like a great deal to me!!! You’re amazing!! And knowing the girls, I can just see and hear the interaction. You’re dealing with bright girls there who know the ins and outs of rules. LOL GREAT plan!!! Really great plan!


  3. I read almost all of these when I was a kid: You can preview the 1st chapter to get a sense of what you’re in for.
    They might suffer from the same problem your books from school have, where they leave out too much. All I know is that I can now brag that I read Moby Dick in 2 hours.


  4. What a fantastic idea!! I’m going to borrow it:) Fiona will be meeting with her former Kindergarten teacher (she just finished first grade but LOVES her kindergarten teacher) twice a week this summer for reading tutoring. I’m going to email her teacher right now and tell her about your idea:)


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